eThekwini's Agribusiness Forum and the department of agriculture have launched a project to encourage small farmers to grow soya beans.
The project will also increase food security by promoting consumption of the nutritious legume, which is high in protein and essential amino acids.
At least 100ha of soya beans will be planted in the region over the next three years, including 42 community gardens around eThekwini.
The city has contracted two small-scale farmers to produce seed for the expansion of the project next year.
Project manager Michael Smit said soya beans could help eradicate malnutrition and improve the general health of poor people in KwaZulu-Natal.
"It is relatively easy and profitable to grow, and can help the poor to grow their own food, to generate an income and to create job opportunities.
"Besides the nutrient value for human consumption, crop residues can be used as green manure, which can replenish soil nutrient levels including nitrogen, soil organic matter and improve soil structure and sustainability," Smit said.